Facebook develops AI to watch over you

December 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook develops AI to watch over youFacebook have said that they’re developing artificial intelligence, which is nice of them isn’t it? This AI will look over you and understand everything you do within the social network to help guide and control your behaviour.

You might think that is enough to chill the marrow in your bones, but Facebook have a different spin on it.

Yann LeCun, who heads up FAIR – that’s the creepy dystopian hell-name for Facebook’s AI division – said: “Imagine that you had an intelligent digital assistant which would mediate your interaction with your friends and also with content on Facebook.”

So how exactly will it guide you? Well, LeCun reckons that it’ll stop you from posting unflattering selfies. Imagine that – a program that is able to tell you if you look hanging or not. Of course, if you always looking minging, you might get a bit annoyed with some AI telling you all the sodding time.

Not only that, this artificial intelligence will take note of when you’re posting anything at all, whether you’ve been drinking, whether you’re in work or not and generally, it will try and gain context, draw a conclusion about it and then nag you. “Uh, this is being posted publicly. Are you sure you want your boss and your mother to see this?” the digital neg would ask.

It might also say: ‘Really? You’ve downed half a bottle of Tesco Value you gin and you’re thinking about sending a message to your ex?’

LeCun says this will be achieved through ‘deep learning’, which is a complex clutch of algorithms that will try to process abstract concepts. Basically, Facebook are having a go at Fuzzy Logic.

Remember the Microsoft paper clip that used to ‘helpfully’ chip-in when you were doing something in Word? Well, Facebook wants to create one of those for your online life.

LeCun says that Facebook are in a good position to get this sorted too, because the company collect such vast amounts of your personal information. The social network is already analysing your behaviour (and sometimes messing with your emotions), so having this bleak cyber assistant shouldn’t be at all surprising.

So there we have it – Facebook are creating an intelligent spy that inanely offers to nag at users, slowly gliding into an Arthur C. Clarke nightmare.

“Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye”

People are hapless with their passwords

December 8th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

password 300x225 People are hapless with their passwordsOver 40% of the UK reckon their passwords will never be guessed by a hacker. According to a survey of 1,000 British people, 63% use the same password on a variety of accounts.

The nosin’ around was part of research done by Redcentric, who also declared that 21% of the 1,000 questioned would only change their password when they were prompted.

A third of the respondees admitted that their passwords contained their names or birth date. The clots. 17% of the 1,000 also said that they kept password details on their phone or computer.

A Redcentric spokesperson said: “Online security is paramount in this day and age, especially as people are able to carry out more day-to-day tasks online such as shopping, banking and running businesses.

“There are obvious concerns when people are using the same passwords over different accounts, especially if those accounts hold personal or financial information. We recommend that you change your password every month or so depending on the kind of account it is, rather than just doing it when prompted.”

You could update your password every month, but which conventional normal human actually does?

selfie Half the public worried about putting pics onlineMore than half of the public still use email to share photos as they’re concerned about online safety, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 British adults, conducted by Berland for private photo and video sharing platform KatchUp reckons 59% the 2000 British adults polled still claim to use email rather than share on social networks, when sharing personal photos.

82% said that keeping in touch with family was the most important thing to them, and almost two thirds (62%) won’t share any photos in any online capacity due to privacy worries.

Reasons such as the time it takes to filter the pics (49%), a fear of data being collected on social media (33%) and a dislike of adverts (17%).

KatchUp founder Katie Hobbs reckons she came up with the idea after a family dinner, saying: “I can’t believe that in the 40 years since it was invented, families still haven’t found a way of sharing that matches the safety and peace of mind that email gives us.”

“We’re hoping that KatchUp can give families the platform for sharing online that these special relationships deserve.”

Admittedly, email may have been invented in 1974 or something, but nobody did anything remotely useful on a computer, or even really knew what email was until around 1997.

KatchUp – two words in one with caps, very ’00s – allows users to create their own personal timeline of images, which they can then invite family and friends to view. We eagerly await the ‘KatchUp Photos Leaked By Hackers’ stories that’ll hit the press within 12 months.

Social media should be simpler

December 1st, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Social media should be simplerSocial media companies should simplify their conditions as no-one can understand them. That’s according to the government, sitting on the parliamentary science and technology committee.

Of course, last week, we saw just how little MPs understand social media as it is, leaving one Tory red-faced as everyone saw how much he liked dirty photos.

Anyway, the complicated terms and conditions that allow firms like Facebook access to a wealth of personal information and even control a user’s phone are drafted for use in American court rooms, according to the committee.

The committee would like a new set of guidelines that make sure websites explain themselves a bit clearer, and that laws should be in place should they not comply.

The committee has pointed to terms for Facebook Messenger’s mobile app, which is used by more than 200,000 million people a month.

Basically, Facebook can gain direct access to a user’s mobile or tablet, including to take pictures or make videos, at any time without explicit confirmation from the owner.

Committee chair Andrew Miller said: “Let’s face it, most people click yes to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand,”

Miller went on to say that he’s sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to new guidelines on “clear communication and informed consent” that the committee is asking the British government to draw up.

Tesco launch Secret Scan-ta app

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Tesco Clubcard are hoping to help you find the perfect gift via Twitter! They’ve teamed up with We Are Social to create a campaign that endeavours the find the ideal gift for people via Twitter.

The Secret Scan-ta (OH GOD YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) app will focus on the cheaper end of goods they offer, rather than stuff like tellies and fridges.

secret scanta 500x363 Tesco launch Secret Scan ta app

Both Clubcard customers and non-customers can input the Twitter handle of a person they are buying the gift for, and then Secret Scan-ta will sift through that particular Twitter account sourcing info on what sort of people and organisation the user follows.

Then using this data – which they’ll probably store away and cite you as a stalker or something in the future – the Scan-ta will offer up gift solutions which they have in stock.

Clubcard members who input their Clubcard vouchers at the start of the search will find their voucher value doubled and deducted from the gift’s price if they go ahead with the purchase.

And that’s not all, each week five winners will be selected at random from those who have used the app to receive 5,000 Clubcard points, and one ultimate winner will be in with a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Katie Aust digital marketing manager from Tesco Clubcard, said: “Christmas, although a happy season, can often bring with it panic and stress of buying gifts. This campaign gives the buyer get a bit of genuine insight into what the recipient is really interested in, resulting in a personal, and thoughtful gift. It also promotes the huge offerings of the Tesco gifting range and the benefits of joining Clubcard and boosting vouchers.”

So, ‘gifting’ – we’re saying that now, are we?

Your webcam is probably being hacked by Russians

November 20th, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

hackers Your webcam is probably being hacked by RussiansToday’s ‘not at all creepy. Oh no’ news now, and basically don’t get your bits out in front of a webcam ever again.

A Russian website is being shut down for streaming images stolen from the likes of baby monitors, bedroom cameras and CCTV.

The site has been featuring live feeds from basically anywhere that’s broadcasting on cam, including a gym in Manchester, a bedroom in Birmingham and an office in Leicester. The site’s database shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France and 1,576 in the Netherlands.

The UK’s information commissioner Christopher Graham urged the Russian authorities to take immediate action to take down the site, but Russia being Russia at the moment, there’ll probably try and make an international incident out of it.

Graham also said he also would be working with the Federal Trade Commission in the US to try to force the site to close if the Russian authorities failed to cooperate.

Interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Graham said: “I’m very concerned about what this [website] shows and I want the Russians to take this down straight away … We now want to take very prompt action working with the Federal Trade Commission in the States to get this thing closed down. But the more important thing is to get the message out to consumers to take those security measures. If you don’t need remote access to a webcam then switch off that function altogether.”

WEBCAM HACK 500x351 Your webcam is probably being hacked by Russians

Graham also said consumers were too laid back about security: “We have got to grow up about this sort of thing,”

“These devices are very handy if you want to have remote access to make sure your child is OK, or the shop is alright, but everyone else can access that too unless you set a strong password. This isn’t just the boring old information commissioner saying ‘set a password’. This story today is an illustration of what happens if you don’t do that. If you value your privacy put in the basic security arrangements. It’s not difficult.”

The Russian site has been online for a month, and has already been the cause of some alert around the world. The UK have known about it for just over 24 hours.

So, watch out next time you do a broadcast. Your audience may be more global than you thought.

WhatsApp goes on lockdown!

November 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

whatsapp WhatsApp goes on lockdown!WhatsApp will now have encrypted messages from now, which is a boon for those who are concerned about personal privacy when chatting and sending photos of their junk to hook-ups. Of course, governments and spy-agencies won’t be at all happy about this, as they get jumpy and start shouting ‘TERRORISTS!’ as soon as anyone hides what they’re talking about.

WhatsApp said that this is the “largest deployment of end-to-end encryption ever.” What that means, in English, is that your messages are safe from people listening-in, unless of course, WhatsApp have a deal with someone where they’ll pass all that information on. Seeing as they’re owned by Facebook, you’d be daft to not indulge that in your thoughts.

Thus far, it’ll only work on Android and is limited to one-on-one text-only chats. So group chats and photos are not as locked down.

Whisper Systems – the company behind the software which is being used to encrypt your WhatsApp messages – have said: ”We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.”

It does look like chat-apps are all working toward utilising this kind of encryption, which is a headache for the NSA and GCHQ. In their eyes, the only people who should have encrypted messages are government officials and people like the FBI.

Hard cheese.

Facebook get blunt about privacy

November 14th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook get blunt about privacyWe all know that Facebook have a troubling time of it when it comes to user-privacy. With that, they’ve decided to tell everyone about their terms in plain English. And the rub of it is that they’re selling you as a person to advertisers.

Also: pope confirms religious preference.

If you want to see Facebook’s new “privacy basics”, then they’ve set up a little thing online. It’s reasonably patronising, so if you want something that’s aimed at adults who can read, then check this.

So, in the ‘plain English’ version, Facebook say: “We want our advertising to be as relevant and interesting as the other information you find on our services. With this in mind, we use all of the information we have about you to show you relevant ads.”

That doesn’t sound to bad does it? If you read the same thing in the ‘adult version’, it sounds a bit more grim: “You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you.”

Facebook want users to give them feedback on all this, which you can do here. That is providing, of course, you have any faith in Facebook actually listening to you. You’ve got until November 20th to get your feelings on Facebook’s privacy rules in.

creditcards Hated online card security systems to get revampedMastercard and Visa are going to replace their online security systems.

The much loathed MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa systems are set to be usurped by a much easier to use set-up.

The systems that ask for further information and an extra password were meant to be a way of halting fraud and making it safer to shop on the internet.

However the systems have also been considered a bit of a faff and open to exploitation.

Initially it all sounded quite comforting. You’d get an extra window asking for fragments of your password and you’d feel all safe and that.

Yet according to customer feedback, customers have struggled to remember additional passwords, and there’s also been issues around whether the pop-up windows were not a front for some evil.

The new system will revolve around customers having passwords texted to them, which they would then type in.

Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise security solutions at MasterCard, said: “All of us want a payment experience that is safe as well as simple, not one or the other. We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember. We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses.”

MasterCard believe that mobile payments will account for 30% of online retail sales by 2018.

Government snooping on your Facebook

November 5th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Government snooping on your FacebookGovernment requests for access to your Facebook data have gone up by 24% in the first six months of 2014.

Governments made 34,946 requests for data, Facebook said in its latest transparency report, which was up 24% from the second half of 2013.

The Government are allowed to see what you’ve been having a say about, should they fancy it, and can do something about it should they wish, and you’ll be none the wiser. Chances are they won’t because you’ve probably spent half your time using it to organise nights out or to flirt with someone who isn’t interested in you at all.

Facebook was also forced to restrict access to about 19% more content than it had before thanks to local laws, due to content having some form of untoward activity featured in it.

Someone with quite a bit of time on their hands, compiled the requests by country, and the U.S. was responsible for 15,433 of them – covering 23,667 users and/or accounts. Most of those requests were search warrants (7,676) and subpoenas (6,088) – of which 84% and 80% were granted, respectively.

A nameless drone from Facebook, clearly unaware of the irony, said “As we’ve said before, we scrutinize every government request we receive for legal sufficiency under our terms and the strict letter of the law, and push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests.”

That’d be the company that makes you feel miserable for experiments and nearly forced drag queens to use their real names on the site. That’s how much they care.

So a handy tip here would be “don’t be a dick on Facebook”. If Facebook could follow the same advice, that would be lovely.

Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooks

October 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

cyber crime 300x223 Half of Britain victimised by cyber crooksHalf of the UK have been victims of cyber crime! According to a new report.

Well, they say ‘half’, but based on a survey of 2000 web users, 51% said they’d been affected by online scams, phishing, ID theft or some pesky virus.

The report by the Get Safe Online organisation, also said that many victims are left emotionally scarred by the experience.

Which is about right. You DO feel a bit vulnerable and freaked out that some arse has buggered your online-scene up.

Half of the victims said they felt violated by their ordeal and rued clicking on that link for free glans/baps (delete as appropriate). Only 14% of the affected felt they’d achieved any kind of redress after the matter either.

Also, a report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, released to coincide with Get Safe Online Week, claimed that online scams raked in £670m between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.

However an upshot of all this, has meant that those who have been violated then got heavy with web protection and not being so free and easy with their online behaviour.

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online reckons this, by saying “Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’, and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished.”

“The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Meanwhile Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude threw his weight in and said the figures underlined the importance of doing everything possible to shore up the UK’s cyber defences, saying: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80bn a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good, but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year.”

“We have an £860m Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement’s response to cybercrime, and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.”

Apple admit that iCloud has been compromised

October 23rd, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

apple icloud 300x260 Apple admit that iCloud has been compromisedApple have ‘fessed up about iCloud accounts being compromised by fake log-in pages. This follows an incident wherein Chinese users’ account names and passwords were requested by suspect looking web pages.

After all that celebrity nude action a couple of weeks ago, Apple came up with a two-password verification system to try and increase security.

Alas, reports of organised password phishing syndicates harvesting user information via fake iCloud pages emerged, and Apple had to come clean and say it’s a thing.

A statement released on Apple’s support page has confirmed that these phishers were stealing accounts and passwords, but that remained the dimensions of it. There was no further information as to when these happenings occurred or the severity of them.

Apple have helpfully told users to only use sites if there’s a padlock handy. On the site’s address bar, not around your neck.

They said: “We’re aware of intermittent organised network attacks using insecure certificates to obtain user information, and we take this very seriously. These attacks don’t compromise iCloud servers, and they don’t impact iCloud sign in on iOS devices or Macs running OS X Yosemite using the Safari browser.”

“The iCloud website is protected with a digital certificate. Users should never enter their Apple ID or password into a website that presents a certificate warning.”

Last month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook admitted that Apple could do more to inform users how to make their iCloud accounts more secure, but was too pre-occupied with flogging new tat than being helpful.

MasterCard really want to see those fingers

October 20th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zwipe 300x200 MasterCard really want to see those fingersMasterCard are trialling a contactless card with fingerprint reader.

The credit card giant are doing tests to see if a fingerprint function would work instead of a PIN number.

The company unveiled the protoype, which they developed in conjunction with Norwegian company Zwipe, who invented the fingerprint technology.

The contactless payment card has an integrated fingerprint sensor and a secure data store for the cardholder’s biometric data, which is held only on the card and not in an external database, the companies said.

The card also has an EMV chip, used in European payment cards instead of a magnetic stripe to increase payment security, and a MasterCard application to allow contactless payments.

The card is currently thicker than the usual ones, as it will have a battery in it to make it work, however Zwipe plan to eliminate the battery and make it the same as other cards, once they’ve started harnessing energy from contactless terminals.

As the fingerprint authentication is quite unique, there’s no limit on contactless payments, whereas other contactless cards have limits in them so that bad people can’t use them to buy diamonds.

Norwegian bank Sparebanken DIN has already tested the Zwipe card, and plans to offer biometric authentication and contactless communication for all its cards apparently.

Hands up if you want Mastercard to store your fingerprints?

Facebook and Apple offering frozen egg service

October 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Mildly creepy news now, as Apple and Facebook are offering to freeze eggs for female employees.

In an interesting approach to try and expand their appeal for more females on their workforce, Apple said it would offer the perk to US-based staff from January.

“Apple cares deeply about our employees and their families, and we are always looking at new ways our health programmes can meet their needs,” said the company.

“We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with cyropreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatments … We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

It all sounds a bit Demon Seed really.

This, and other initiatives are said to be the doing of new human resources head Denise Young Smith, who is all for diversity and that. Facebook offers up to $20,000 (£13,000) for egg freezing for female employees. The company also offers adoption and surrogacy assistance.

Of course, they won’t actually be using the eggs to experiment on and try and build the first Google Child. That’s not going to happen. Oh no.

Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hacked

October 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Dropbox Logo 580 75 300x168 Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hackedNearly seven million Dropbox accounts have been hacked.

The latest in the long line of unending hackery was spotted after hackers were able to get at logins and passwords via a third party affair.

Hackers leaked 400 accounts onto site Pastebin, claiming to make the remaining 6.9 million hacked accounts available to users in return for Bitcoin donations, according to The Next Web.

The post threatened that 6.9 million Dropbox accounts had been hacked, including photos, videos and other files.

Obviously Dropbox don’t want to be seen as quite so vulnerable and so dismissed it, claiming: “These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts.

“We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well.”

Dropbox reckon that the service consistently expiries passwords for accounts that are being attacked, but could not provide a number of accounts that expired recently.

The news comes as wasteman Edward Snowden claims individuals who care about their privacy should “get rid of Dropbox”, counting it among the services that are “hostile to privacy.”

Either way, Dropbox should change their company logo from ‘your stuff, anywhere’, to ‘your stuff, bloody everywhere’.